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Supreme Court warning to Trial Courts against adjournments

Supreme Court warns Trial courts against granting adjournments after commencement of evidence

1 December, 2017

Supreme Court in an order passed in a Criminal Appeal filed by 9 convicts in a case which was dragged in the trial court and High court for the last 12 years, warned Trial court against granting adjournments after commencement of evidence.


In the said matter,  one Bhagwan Singh was murdered on 27th May 2005. 20 persons were tried, nine persons who have been convicted concurrently by the Trial Court and High Court. Others have either been acquitted or have died.

The court dismissed appeal filed under Article 136 of the Contrition. In the dismissal order, the Bench of Justice Adarsh K Goel and Justice U U Lalit observed that:

"After recording examination-in-chief of the star witness, PW-14 Prabhu Singh, on 13th April, 2010, the matter was adjourned on the request of defence counsel to 25th August, 2010 i.e. for about more than four months. After that, part evidence of the witnesses was recorded on 24th September, 2010 and the matter was again adjourned to 11th October, 2010. Before that, four witnesses of the same family in their statements recorded on 10th April, 2010 had become hostile."

The court further observed that "In a criminal case of this nature, the trial court has to be mindful that for the protection of witness and also in the interest of justice the mandate of Section 309 of the Cr.P.C. has to be complied with and evidence should be recorded on continuous basis. If this is not done, there is every chance of witnesses succumbing to the pressure or threat of the accused".

The court in its order sited reference from the matter in State of U.P. versus Shambhu Nath Singh and Others (2001) 4 SCC 667 in which it was observed by the court that it was a pity that the sessions court adjourned the matter for a long interval after commencement of evidence, contrary to the mandate of Section 309 of the Cr.P.C. Once examination of witnesses begins, the same has to be continued from day-to-day unless evidence of the available witnesses is recorded, except when adjournment beyond the following day has to be granted for reasons recorded.

The court also observed that in spite of repeated directions of the Supreme Court, the situation appears to have remained un-remedied. The court expressed hope that the presiding officers of trial court conducting trials will be mindful of not giving such adjournments after commencement of the evidence in serious criminal matters.

In conclusion the bench said that:
"13. To conclude:
(i) The trial courts must carry out the mandate of Section 309 of the Cr.P.C. as reiterated in judgments of this Court, inter alia, in State of U.P. versus Shambhu Nath Singh and Others9, Mohd. Khalid versus State of W.B.10 and Vinod Kumar versus State of Punjab11 .

(ii) The eye-witnesses must be examined by the prosecution as soon as possible.

(iii) Statements of eye-witnesses should invariably be recorded under Section 164 of the Cr.P.C. as per procedure prescribed thereunder.

14. The High Courts may issue appropriate directions to the trial courts for compliance of the above."





Read the Order of Supreme Court dated 28.11.2017



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